Meet Me at QuiltCon 2018: My Schedule of Events

I’m super excited for QuiltCon 2018 which takes place next week, February 22-25 in Pasadena California. Although I taught there the last 2 years, this year I’m excited to take it a little bit easier by being a student and attendee, and I can’t wait. However, I’ll still be super busy with a full lineup! If you plan to attend, I’d love to see you at one of my events listed below:

Christa’s QuiltCon Schedule

Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs

On Thurs. Feb 22, from 12:15-1:15 I’ll be in the Hobbs Batting Booth #122 for a meet ‘n greet. I’ll have some small samples on display and will be happy to answer your questions about batting, machine quilting, and anything else! Rumor has it, there might even be a giveaway!!
Later that day, I’ll be helping out as a general volunteer from 4-6 PM. I’m sure I’ll be wandering the show, pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is truly one of the best ways to get the most out of any show!
Christa at QuiltCon with Hobbs
On Fri. Feb 23, from 12:30-1:30 I’ll be having a book signing with InTown Quilters at booth #624. They’ll have copies of Piece and Quilt with Precuts for sale and some Modern Marks precuts. If you know you’ll be at the show and want to reserve a copy of the book ahead of time, be sure and contact them right away before they sell out.
star Shadow by Christa Watson
Star Shadow, designed and made by Christa Watson, featuring Modern Marks
On Saturday, Feb 24 from 10-11:30 I’ll be hanging out tin the Modern Quilts Unlimited Booth #105. They will have my quilt Star Shadow on display, and you can get the pattern in their latest magazine issue! For those of you enjoying Quiltcon from home, click here to purchase the latest issue #22.
Christa at QuiltCon with BERNINA
Later that day, starting on Saturday at 1:15 PM, I’ll be performing a live machine quilting demo on stage, followed by a Meet ‘n Greet & book signing in the BERNINA booth #502. I’m pretty sure BERNINA will have a machine or two in their booth that you can try out and see why it’s my favorite sewing machine!
The MQG book
Finally, I’ll end my day on Saturday from 5:30-7:30 hanging out at The MQG Book Signing Party, to celebrate the launch of the new book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. I was thrilled to have 2 of my quilts featured in the book, which you can read about here.
QuiltCon 2018
I have to say, QuiltCon is my absolute favorite event – it features over 300 modern quilts and tons of great vendors. So far I’ve gone to every single show (since the first one in 2013). QuiltCon changed the course of my quilting career for the better and I’ve been pleased to have at least one of my quilts included in the show each time. For those not able to attend be sure to follow #quiltcon on social media, and check out a fun event that will be happing at the same time: #quiltconfromhome.

check out My Other posts from Prior QuiltCons:

Squiggles Quilt Along Week 5 – Basting

Spray Basting the quilt

I prefer to use 505 basting spray for my quilts, but pin basting works, too. (Just be sure to use a LOT of pins so it doesn’t shift!) Although I’m going to show you how I basted Squiggles using my design wall, know that you can apply this method using a table, too. Just work from the center out and move the quilt as needed to secure the layers.

Step 1 – Spray the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Use a large sheet as a drop cloth to catch any over-spray. It will also protect the quilt from the ground, too! Generously spray the wrong side of the quilt backing with basting stray, ensuring coverage in all areas. Work your way across the quilt from one side to the other. Your quilt will stick better and use less spray by spraying the top and backing separately, rather than spraying the batting as provided by the instructions on the can.

Although I’ve pressed both the backing and quilt top, some wrinkles and fold lines may reappear, but that’s okay. You’ll smooth everything out later.

Step 2 – Spray the Quilt Top

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Spray the wrong side of the quilt top, just like you did for the backing. You can still use the same sheet as a ground cloth, and then wash it when you are finished. It’s easier to spray the top because you can use the blocks as a guide to help you remember which areas to spray. I usually spray row by row.

Step 3 – Fold up both layers and bring inside

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Right now it will look like a bit of a sticky mess. But that’s okay – the layers are tacky to the touch but not stuck. You can easily peel them apart again. Your hands will get a little sticky during this process, but the glue easily washes off and won’t cause any problems while quilting. You don’t have to baste right away as it will still maintain its stickiness for awhile afterward.

Step 4 – Hang UP the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Pin or stick the backing to the design wall, wrong side out. Start at the top and let gravity help you. I’m short so I use a step ladder to get up high enough and I’m not trying to center the backing perfectly. I’m just glad that this is a process I can do completely by myself, without help.  Notice how the backing might stick to itself and get a little scrunched up at the bottom. That’s perfectly fine for now – see the next step.

If you don’t have a design wall, you can use a table instead. Just smooth out the center of the backing, add the other layers and smooth out one section of the quilt at a time.

Step 5 – Smooth Out the Backing

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Take about 10-15 minutes to completely spread and smooth out the backing. Work your way from top to bottom, smoothing it out as you go. Use a long acrylic ruler to help you. Think of it as an extension of your arm, giving you more coverage.

The acrylic ruler will get sticky over time, so I have an extra ruler that I use ONLY for basting. You want the backing nice and smooth before you add the batting.

Step 6 – Add the Batting

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I’m using Hobbs 80/20 batting in black for this but natural is great, too!

Before I add the batting, I will actually iron it first to get out any wrinkles. If it’s cotton batting, you can iron right on the batting. If it has polyester or wool in it, you can protect it with a length of fabric. I use a hot, dry iron with no steam. You can iron wool batting with no problem – just use a lower setting and don’t press too hard. If you use steam, it might shrink or felt, so always test a small piece first.

Just like the backing, start at the top and place a few pins in the design wall if needed at the top to secure it. It’s okay to peel off part of the batting and re-position if needed.

Step 7 – Smooth the Batting

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Take time to smooth out the batting, using your hands and the long acrylic ruler.  Notice how it’s getting a bit wonky. That’s okay as long as the batting and backing are larger than the quilt top – the excess will get cut away.

I like being generous in my batting and backing so I don’t have to try and line things up perfectly. That’s above my skill level for sure!! I guessed where the rough middle of the backing and batting are and like a good friend of mine says, “close enough is good enough!”

Step 8 – Add the Top

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

At this point, it looks a little bit like a hot mess, but don’t worry – it will all work out in the end! Fabric is flexible and it’s okay to smoosh things up a bit – your quilt can handle it. (Those that are familiar with my scrunch and smoosh method of machine quilting can relate!!)

Repeat the same process as before: add the quilt top layer and let it drop down the wall with gravity; take time to peel it apart, and smooth it out.

Step 9 – Smooth the Layers

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Make sure there’s enough batting and backing sticking out on all sides and take plenty of time to smooth out the top. By smoothing each layer as you go, it will vastly eliminate the chances of puckers and wrinkles appearing on the back.

If you are too far off to one side or another, take off the top and try again.

Step 10 – Smooth Out Each Row

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

As you are smoothing out the quilt, use the long ruler to help ensure that each row is lined up vertically and horizontally. You can gently nudge the blocks into place if needed.

Step 11 – Roughly Trim off the Excess

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

Now it’s time to cut off all that extra bulk around the edges. I use these cutoffs for machine quilting practice later. Or you can wash the excess backing and throw it in your stash.

Notice that I trim it pretty close to the edge. You can leave more wiggle room if you like, by I usually only leave about an inch or two. This prevents the excess from getting flipped over underneath the quilt and accidentally stitched through while you are quilting.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done that, right??

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I use batting shears to cut through the bulky layers quickly and easily! You can trim the quilt on the design wall, or take it off and do it on a table or the floor.

Step 12 – Press the Quilt

Spray basting a quilt by Christa Quilts

I just love the vibrant colors and geometric prints in Modern Marks!

This is where the magic happens! For the final step, iron the quilt on the back side and then on the front. Use a hot, dry iron – no steam. This is a final chance to smooth out any wrinkles and nudge things into place. The iron helps set the glue so that every single inch of the quilt is stuck to every other inch, making it a breeze to machine quilt!

I use a “Big Board” that goes on top of my ironing board to give me more work surface. Also, the basting spray will not gum up the needle or cause any problems while quilting. And it easily washes out once you are finished with the quilt.

Next week we’ll tackle my favorite part – machine quilting. I can’t wait!!

Relevant Links


Squiggles Quilt Along Week 4 – Batting and Backing

If you are just now joining the quilt along – click here for links to all of the previous posts.

Squiggles Quilt Top

I remade Squiggles from precut squares of Modern Marks, plus contrasting background.

Now that the Squiggles quilt top is finished, it’s time to prepare it for basting, which will be next week’s post. I decided to throw in an extra tutorial on backing since it’s the part that’s not talked about very much. This will also allow those of you just joining to catch up with your piecing. But remember – you can go at your own pace and quilt along at any time!

Calculating and Sewing the Backing

You want to ensure your backing is at least 4″ larger around the quilt on all for sides. For example, my version of Squiggles finishes at about 50″ x 63″. So my pieced backing should measure a minimum of 58″ x 71″.

Backing of Squiggles, Made from Modern Marks

When measuring backing, I put it up on m y design wall and make sure it’s wider than the quilt.

I always work with 40-42″ wide fabric so If I piece two lengths of fabric parallel to the selvage edges that will give me roughly 80″ of length. So that takes care of the 71″ measurement. More backing is fine because it can just get trimmed away later. For the other direction, 58/36 inches = 1.611 or approximately 1 3/8 yards of fabric. Since you need two of those, that’s a total of 3 1/4 yards of backing fabric, cut into two pieces.

Pieced Backing for Squiggles

It takes 2 lengths of fabric to completely cover the finished quilt top.

I chose to use the quirky triangles print in Navy for my backing. My recommendation is to use a busy backing with a colorful quilt so that whatever thread color you choose for quilting will blend in on the back of the quilt. Busy backs also help hide quilting imperfections, too!

Finished backing

Always double check that the pieced backing is bigger than the top on all four sides.

Tear or cut of the selvages and join the two pieces together with 1/2″ seam. Then press the seam open. It’s okay if the two pieces aren’t perfectly even because the excess will get trimmed away later.

A note about batting

I prefer to use natural fiber battings, like Hobbs cotton, wool or an 80/20 blend. Natural fiber batting will cling to the quilt better and reduce the chances that you’ll get tucks or puckers while you quit.

Hobbs 80/20 batting black

Bonus tip: take a picture of the batting with your quilt so you remember what’s in it!

I used black 80/20 batting for my quilt, because the colors were so bright and saturated, and the background is so dark. However, it slightly shadowed through the lighter fabrics. It’s not noticeable unless you get up really close. But each quilt I make is always an experiment!

Be sure to trim the batting down before you baste the quilt, but make sure it’s still an inch or two larger than the top on all sides. I use the floor for this and pair of specialty batting scissors. They cut through the batting like butter!

Squiggles - Trim the Batting

I’ll also take an extra step to iron m y batting so it’s nice and flat for basting. For natural fiber batting, I’ll spritz it with water and press with a hot, dry iron. For a more delicate batting, I recommend covering it with fabric while you press. As always, be sure and test a small piece first to see how it performs.

Share Your Progress

Click here to join my facebook group and share pics of your progress!
You can also share on instagram by tagging @christaquilts and #squigglesqal.

Click here for all of the Squiggles Quilt Along tutorials.
Click here to pick up a signed copy of my book to get the Squiggles quilt pattern.

Christa’s Soap Box – A Look Back at 2017

I debated on whether or not to do a “year end” blog post like so many do. But then I realized, it’s been a very busy year! Can I distill it down to just a few snippets? So I decided to focus on one memorable event for each month of 2017. Here’s a snapshot of what happened this year:

January – An Injury & A Visit

Angela Walters and Christa Watson

My buddy and co-author Angela Walters came to visit my local guild in January, so she got to see me sporting my fashionable elbow sling! Thank goodness I love to wear black and white, LOL!!
Click here to see the book we wrote together in 2016.

The year didn’t start off so great. After trying to get healthy and fit, I dislocated my left elbow when I fell from a climbing wall at the gym. This is an activity where you free-climb indoors without ropes and there’s padding on the floors to catch your fall. I was great at climbing, but not so great at falling. I’ve now learned that when you fall, it’s best to tuck and roll and NOT reach your arm out to break the fall!!

It’s taken the majority of the year for me recover and heal completely, but I’ve been working on a safer workout routine, and next year is shaping up to be the year I finally recover my fitness. Here’s to a healthy 2018!

February – Lots of Teaching!

Machine Quilting Student Work at QuiltCon 2017Student work from one of my classes at QuiltCon.
Click here to read my blog post about QuiltCon 2017.

I taught at QuiltCon for the second time in a row and loved it! The only downside is that I was so busy teaching, I barely had time to enjoy the show! I look forward to attending QuiltCon 2018 and NOT having to teach so I’ll have plenty of time to view each and every quilt! (They prefer to not book the same instructors more than a couple of years in a row, to give others a chance to teach.)

March – Lots of Ribbons!

Churn Dash Slide

Churn Dash Slide – 1st place single entrant category at DQN Quilt Las Vegas 2017.
Click here to read more about my local guild’s quilt show in 2017 and a new milestone.

I attended my local guild’s show and entered quilts as I do every year. It’s a fabulous show for a local event and I usually pull a ribbon each time I enter. This year was a new milestone for me as every quilt I entered (there’s a limit of 4) earned a ribbon. I consider this a win for domestic machine quilting since many of the quilts are judged against professional long arm quilting. It just goes to show that the machine you use doesn’t matter as much as your willingness to do good work, no matter the tools. 🙂

April – Lots of Patterns!

Christa Quilts Patterns

Click here to see my full collection of printed quilt patterns.
Click here to see my full collection of PDF quilt patterns.

After a few fits and starts, I released several new quilt patterns. Originally the goal was to release them on a regular schedule, but other, more exciting projects kept getting in the way. This was also the point at which I realized I do much better working with other companies to create new and exciting content rather than trying to do things entirely on my own. (Look for more patterns next year as I plan the releases to coincide with new fabric lines.)

May – An Anniversary Celebration

Christa & Jason at the Beach

Here’s to another 24 years of love and marriage!
This was us at the beach a couple of anniversaries ago and it’s still my favorite place to hang out!!

I celebrated 24 years of marriage with the love of my life, Jason. We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the last two decades and we feel like we are finally figuring out this marriage and work-at-home thing!! (Yes, we got married young – I hadn’t even turned 20 yet and he was almost 23. Now that we have children approaching that age, I realize how young that truly is!!)

June – Judging Beautiful Quilts

Best Modern Quilt Vermont Quilt Festival 2017

Best Modern Quilt at Vermont Quilt Festival by Anya Byam of Burlington, VT
Click here to read more about my judging experience at the show.

I judged my very first quilt show! I was brought into the Vermont Quilt Festival to add my modern voice to the talented pool of judges they solicit each year. It was amazing to get up close and personal with each and every quilt and see the detail and love stitched into each one. I was on my feet for 6 days straight – 2 days of judging and then another 4 days teaching, so I don’t know that I would be keen to combine both types of work in the future, but It was a fabulous experience nonetheless.

July – 2nd Craftsy Class Release

Startup Library Craftsy Class by Christa Watson

Click here to get 50% off my 2nd Craftsy class Startup Library: Quilting
Click here to get 50% off my 1st Craftsy class: The Quilter’s Path

I launched my second online Craftsy class, Startup Library – Quilting. This workshop is 3 times longer than my first class and was created as a basic introductory course for brand new quilters, or those who’d like to freshen up their quilting education. Working with the folks at Craftsy is such a treat, and they are so professional! They produce top notch videos and I plan to continue to work with them to launch additional classes in the future.

August – 3rd Book Release

Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson

Click here to get your signed copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts.

I released my third book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Just like my previous two books, it includes start to finish instruction for making the quilt top, plus strategies and step by step diagrams on how to quilt them. After writing 3 books in a row non-stop, I’m taking a little breather to catch my breath before starting on the next one!

September – More Teaching!

Teaching at MQX quilt show

Setting up for my class at the fall MQX quilt show.
Click here for info about next year’s shows – spring and fall.

I taught at MQX quilt show for the first time (and will be returning again in the spring of 2019). This show is special to me because it’s the first national quilt show where I received a ribbon. Back in 2013 I entered my String of Pearls quilt in their newly created “Quilting the Modern Way” category. I received an honorable mention but to me it felt like best in show!

October – First Fabric Release

Modern Marks by Christa Watson for Benartex

Click here to get a fat quarter bundle of Modern Marks, while supplies last.

I launched my first line of fabric, Modern Marks at international quilt market in Houston Texas. Fabric design has long been a dream of mine and it was so gratifying to achieve this goal. So far it has been well received and my hope is to continue designing 1-2 fabric collections a year for as long as it is sustainable.

November – Family Fun!

Watson Family Dia De Los Muertos

We get silly with the extended family at holiday time each year. My MIL creates an elaborate scavenger hunt and we all dress up based on a movie theme for the year. This year’s theme was “Day of the Dead” from the Disney movie Coco. We’re celebrating the fact that we’ll be headed to a fun family reunion in the Mexican Riviera next year and we can’t wait!

I spent a lot of time enjoying time with my family. 2018 will be a big transition year for us – the oldest heads off to college and the next oldest graduates from high school. The youngest who has been home-schooled the past 6 years wants to go to regular high school (for her sophomore year) to see what that is all about. We may actually have some time in 2018 where it’s just the two of us at home during the day – I can’t even imagine what that will look like, or how quiet it will be, LOL!!

December – More In-Person Quality, Less Online Quantity

Teaching at Quilt Addicts Anonymous

I love connecting with others face to face in class and at fun events.
Click here to read my post on simplifying social media.

I traveled to my last teaching event of the year at my friend Stephanie’s shop, Quilt Addicts Anonymous. It was a crazy busy, but fun year of teaching! I did a total of 17 multi-day teaching events in 2017 and realized that as much as I love it, that’s a bit too much. I’ve decided to slightly scale back and limit my travels to no more than 1 event per month, and I’m still booked solid for the next two years.

I also decided to simplify my social media to focus on more quality and less quantity. Although it’s only been a few weeks since I made the switch, I’m already enjoying more time and head space for me to truly do what I love – create!

I hope you had a fabulous 2017 and are looking forward to more quilty fun in 2018!!

My Quilts from Modern Quilts: Designs of a New Century – Modern X and HST

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for the brand new book published by The Modern Quilt Guild and C&T Publishing, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. 

It’s a beautiful coffee table book presented in hard cover with images of over 200 modern quilts.

Modern Quilts Book

Click here to pick up your copy of Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

I always like to give a little behind the scenes backstory about how I end up being featured in collaborations such as this one. Sometimes it’s luck, other times it’s tenacity, and most of the time, it’s a bit of both!

When I attended the first QuiltCon in 2013, I knew right away that the time had finally come to start getting published and raise my professional quilting profile. One of the lectures I attended was on publishing a book, given by the editor of C&T, with panelists such as Angela Walters, among others. I came home from the show on fire and ready to get to work! Although I ultimately went with a different publisher for my own books, I’ve always been impressed with the quality of books published by C&T (and will be a small part of another book of theirs coming up in 2018 – so stay tuned).

An early “profile” image of me with Modern X back in 2014.

As soon as I could, I starting participating in Modern Quilt Guild events, submitting quilts to their shows each year, teaching at QuiltCon, giving webinars, and being one of their designers of the month (back in 2014-the first year they launched that program.) In other words, I got involved!!

When the MQG had a call for entries for this book, I eagerly applied. They looked through images of all the quilts that were submitted along with entries into all previous QuiltCons and I was pleased to end up with two quilts in the book!

Modern X

Modern X Quitling Detail

Check out #modernxquilt on instagram to see many amazing versions of this quilt!

Click here to get the PDF version of Modern X quilt pattern.
Click here to get the print version of Modern X quilt pattern.

Modern X was featured as one of the quilt patterns of the month created by and for MQG members. Here’s a fun fact: It was my suggestion that the MQG feature the quilts of the month as a special exhibit at QuiltCon which they’ve done every year since 2015!

Modern X at QuiltCon with Bill Volckening

Modern X on display during the “special exhibits tour” given by Bill Volckening at QuiltCon 2015

This quilt has gone on to win an award at a local quilt show and has been in a couple of traveling exhibitions of modern quilts. This is also the quilt I talk about when I share the importance of batting and basting in my lectures. (Originally I used a polyester batting for Modern X which created all kinds of puckers because it’s so slippery. I un-quilted, re-basted, and re-quilted this quilt using a cotton blend batting and was much happier with the results!)

HST (The Original)

HST Quilt

The original HST quilt. My photography isn’t great since this was taken before we got good equipment. However the photos in the book are top notch!

HST (Half -Square Triangle) was originally patterned way back in issue 5 of Make Modern Magazine. When I originally made the quilt in 2015 I knew I had created a special design and wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for 2016. However, when I went to wash the quilt, I used a “gentle” wash powder that ended up bleaching parts of the quilt!

bleach stain on HST quilt

The quilt now has random bleach stains throughout. 😦

Needless to say I was devastated. Since I’m always one to try and turn lemons into lemonade, I was pleased when this quilt was still able to be selected for the book. With some clever photoshop editing, you can’t see the bleach stains in the book photography and I’m glad it was able to be included.

Machine Quilting HST

Quilting Detail on HST

Since I love making functional quilts, I still use the quilt every day and it’s nice and warm because I used super thick cotton batting. I quilted HST with a lot of straight line quilting, and I created a woven texture in the background by alternating the direction of the lines. I threw in a few random spirals in the lighter gray blocks.

HST pieced backing

HST Backing – I love making pieced backs from leftovers!

The only thing I wasn’t happy about HST (besides the bleach stains) is that doesn’t hang well because I used a woven textured background fabric. Because of the looser weave, the background ended up stretching too much as I quilted it.

So even thought it was painful to accidentally “ruin” a quilt, I decided that if I remade the quilt, I’d be able to create an even better version and try out some different quilting ideas.

HST Remix

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I was pleased to sneak in a little of my Modern Marks fabric for the binding!

And now there’s another happy ending to this story. Because I loved this design so much, I knew I had to remake it and submit it for QuiltCon 2018. I almost cried when I received my acceptance that it made it into the show!

The background of the HST remix is all pieced from regular cotton solids so they were nice and stable and didn’t stretch. In both versions, the negative space is made from individually pieced background squares to add a bit more dimension rather than using large chunks of fabric.

HST's in progress

Improv-pieced HST’s

There are some slight differences from the first version. Because I ran out of fabric, I had to do some improv piecing to get enough triangles. I also decided to make them slightly bigger so that it would fit my bed. I also kept the idea of random pops of yellow and lighter gray but tried not to duplicate the layout exactly.

Quilting Plan

Quilting plan for HST

A draft “quilting plan” for HST remix. I obviously went in a different direction, but kept some of the elements in my final version. It often takes me many tries until I get a design I like.

The hardest part was deciding how to quilt it! I went through dozens of iterations of quilting plans until I could find something I liked. To make a quilting plan, I’ll print a copy of the design from EQ8 and will try sketching out different ideas until I’m pleased with how it looks. (You can do something similar by printing a photo of the quilt top.)

Although this takes time, it saves me hours of time ripping out a quilted design that looks great in my head, but doesn’t actually work on the quilt!

quilting plan for hst remix

Another quilting plan in progress – it’s getting closer to what I actually did!

Machine Quilting on HST RemixClick the image above to see closeup details.

I think my favorite part of the quilting was quilting some irregular chevron designs in each of the HST blocks and adding a bit of  “embellishment” by randomly quilting a different free-motion design in a few of the blocks.

HST remix quilting detail

I gave a nod to the original HST with a touch of straight line quilting and modern spirals.

Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out and I’m pleased that the original HST is preserved in the book, and folks will get to see HST remix “in the cloth” at QuiltCon next year!

More detail of HST remix

I loved using Alison Glass handcrafted batiks for this quilt!

Click here for a list of all the stops on the Modern Quilts blog hop, and to see more of the beautiful quilts in the book! There are no patterns in the book, just hundreds of pages of beautiful modern quilts for you to explore. I highly recommend this volume for anyone interested in modern quilts!

Finished Quilt: Color Weave, QuiltCon Entry + Quilting Tips

Today I have another quilt finish to share! Now that I’m not inundated with too many projects and too little time (yay for balance!), I can actually blog more about quilts I’ve recently finished, and I love sharing my virtual show and tell with you!

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Color Weave was published in issue 21 of Modern Quilts Unlimited. Photo Credit MQU.

Modern Quilts Unlimited is one of my all-time favorite magazines and it’s such a thrill when my work appears in their pages. Fun fact: the editor, Laurie Baker and I met backin 2014 when she helped edit my first book, Machine Quilting with Style, and we’ve been friends ever since!

Color Weave Backstory

I originally made Color Weave to be included in my most recent book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, since it’s completely sewn from 2 1/2″ strips. While the book was in the layout and editing stage, the editors realized it was going to be too long (what? Me wordy???) and we had to make the agonizing decision to cut this project.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

I love quilts with simple color schemes. Pick any 3 colors to make this quilt!

This happens with craft books more often than you realize, because book publishers would rather have too much content to choose from than not enough. For budgeting purposes, they have to stick to a strict page limit that’s agreed ahead of time in the book contract, and there’s only so many ways you can lay things out with a limited number of pages.

Precut Pieces for Color Weave

I love it when all of the pieces of a quilt are cut and ready to sew!

So after I held my 5 minute pity party, I contacted MQU and asked if they’d be interested in publishing this pattern in their magazine and they said yes! FYI – if you are interested in getting into magazines, editors are always on the lookout for great content and the fact that my quilt was ready to go meant they could schedule it for any issue where they needed to fill pages.

Machine Quilting Details

Needless to say I was thrilled that Modern Quilts Unlimited was excited to publish the pattern for Color Weave, and I was even more pleased that they included the instructions on how to quilt it as a free “web extra” on their blog. (See below image for link.)

Color Weave Web ExtraPhoto Credit – Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine

Click here to get my machine quilting instructions for Color Weave, courtesy of MQU magazine.

Random crosshatch is actually one of my favorite ways to quilt a quilt with your walking foot (or dual feed) and it is so easy to do! Rather than painstakingly trying to mark and create a perfectly symmetrical grid, I use the piecing seams as a guideline for my lines.

Machine Quilting Random Crosshatch

I started off by quilting in the ditch between all the seams to stabilize and anchor the quilt. Then I filled in between the grid with straight lines at random intervals. I used the edge of my walking foot as a guideline for spacing, moving the needle position to create narrower or wider lines.

QuiltCon Acceptance

I knew right away when I received this quilt back from the magazine that I wanted to enter it into QuiltCon for their 2018 show. I haven’t really seen a design like this before, so I thought it had a good shot of getting into the innovative “Piecing” category.  I’m pleased that others will be able to see it at next years’ show because one of the reasons I enter shows is to share my work with a wider audience who might not have discovered me yet.

Quilting Detail on Color Weave

Quilting detail from Color Weave. Just remember: the best way to hide an imperfectly straight line is to surround it with more imperfectly straight lines!!

It took me awhile to figure out how to create the woven effect in the piecing. It’s like an optical illusion, and I’m sure the quilt would look totally different using scrappy prints, but I was pleased with how it turned out.

When trying to quilt parallel lines, just remember that “straight-ish” lines are perfectly ok! When you are two inches away from the quilt, you’ll notice all the imperfections. But once you back away from the quilt, all of a sudden your eye sees the overall texture rather than the individual stitches.

Random Crosshatch Grid by Christa Watson

Quilting Tip:  If you want your quilting to show, use a solid back. If you want to hide your quilting, using a busy back. I always use the same color thread in top and bobbin because I’d rather see the quilting show up on the back, than little dots of bobbin color on the top!

color Weave Stats:

Color Weave by Christa Watson

Photo Credit: Jason Watson

Modern quilts are my favorite. Now I just need to make more of them!!

Squiggles Quilt Along Schedule – Grab Your Fabric and Get Ready!

Let’s kick off the next year in quilty style, with a Quilt Along!! If you remember the launch of my newest book last summer, I teased the idea of remaking one of the quilts from the book in my new fabric. Readers were able to vote on their favorite quilt, and when to start the Quilt Along.

Well guess what? We’re going to start the Quilt Along on Monday, January 15 and it will run for 6 weeks, going through every step you need to make the Squiggles quilt below, from start to finish!

Suiggles with Modern Marks

Squiggles Quilt Kits are available for a limited time, with black or white background.

I’ll be remaking my version of Squiggles using my Modern Marks fabric + black background, but of course, you can choose any fabrics you like!

Here’s the Quilt Along Schedule and Supply List. Each week as I write create each step, I’ll update the links below so that this post can serve as a landing page for the quilt along.

2018 Quilt Along Schedule

Click the hotlinks below to get to each blog post.

Modern Marks Fabric

Supply List

  • Copy of my book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts
  • Two – 5″ charm packs of background solid or tonal fabric (or a total of 77 squares)
  • Four – 5″ charm packs of print fabric (or a total of 154 squares)
  • 1/2 yard of fabric for binding
  • 3 1/4 yards of fabric for backing
  • 56″ x 70″ piece of batting (I recommend Hobbs batting)
  • Approx. 1200 yards (or one large spool) of thread for quilting (I recommend Aurifil)
  • Sewing Machine with new needle and basic sewing supplies
  • Rotary cutting equipment (6″ acrylic ruler, mat, standard cutter with new blade)

So gather your fabrics, your copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts, and start sharing on social media (#squigglesquilt and Christa Quilts on Facebook).

The original version of Squiggles, as shown in the book:

Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts

We’re just a month away from a quiltin’ good time!!













Christa’s Soapbox – On Quilt Show Acceptance and Rejection

It’s that time of year again, where you can find an inspiring virtual quilt show on Instagram. Just search the hashtags #quiltconreject and #quiltcon2018 to see many of the quilts that were entered into next year’s show (happening in Pasadena, CA Feb 22-25, 2018).

HST Remix by Christa Watson

I’m pleased that HST Remix shown above was accepted into QuiltCon 2018. I’ll be blogging more about this quilt and the other one that made it in, so stay tuned!

QuiltCon has been happening since 2013 and as social media has grown, so has the sharing which is nothing short of inspiring. In the early days of QuiltCon, feelings were a little more raw when many who had entered a show for the very first time ever, felt that their quilts not getting in was somehow a rejection of themselves, rather than a simple fact of math. About 1400 quilts are usually entered each year and there’s room to display only about 350 of them. So that means quilt entrants only have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting in. Or in other words, 75% of the quilts that are submitted won’t make it in.

HST Remix Detail

Detail of HST Remix. For each quilt show entry you usually provide two images – an overall view of the entire quilt plus a closeup so they can see the machine quilting.

What I’ve noticed this year is a much more upbeat attitude: sure quilters are still disappointed when their beautiful work doesn’t make the cut. But when they look at the sheer volume and amazing workmanship of others that also were “rejected”, they seem to take it in stride.

I’ve certainly known my fair of disappointment and rejection. I’ve entered quilts into QuiltCon every year from the beginning and each year my non-acceptences or “rejects” have far outnumbered those that were juried in.

(FYI – a “juried” show means you send in a digital image of your quilt during the application process and a group of people who are completely different from the judges look at all the quilts and decide which will best represent the show. It’s usually based on individual scoring of each quilt, and the jurors don’t know who makes each quilt. Those quilts with the highest jury scores are accepted until all spots have been filled.)

Colorweave quilt

Colorweave is the second quilt that was accepted into QuiltCon. It’s simple yet graphic.

I have managed to have at least one quilt in each QuiltCon (see them here: 2013, 2015, 2015, 2015, 2016, 2017, but some of it was pure luck: for the first QuiltCon back in 2013, no one really knew about it until the entry deadline had passed, so the odds of getting in back then were MUCH higher. Then in two of the previous shows, the only reason I got in was because of “automatic” triggers: I had a quilt in the 2017 issue of QuiltCon magazine which was a guaranteed entry, and in 2016 one of my quilts was in the MQG showcase which was also an automatic entry for that year.

Coloweave - walking foot quilting

Detail of the quilting on Color Weave – random crosshatch lines quilted with a walking foot

And you know what? I’ve never won a ribbon at QuiltCon before. I certainly don’t enter to win – the joy for me is in the sharing. But it is kind of ironic, that I’ve been able to get a ribbon at many of the national quilts show I’ve entered, but none at QuiltCon. There’s no bitterness at all there, just a simple acknowledgement that QuiltCon is unlike any other show out there, which is one of the things I love about the show. Heck, some of the quilts that have won ribbons at other national shows never even made it into QuiltCon, which just goes to show that just because a quilt didn’t get in, doesn’t make it less amazing or not worthy.

QuiltCon reject 1

“Rejection #1” – S.W.A.K (Sealed with a Kiss)

If you are one of those feeling a little bruised because your quilt didn’t make it into QuiltCon (or another show for that matter), might I offer this bit of encouragement: you are doing your best work right now and it will only get better!

If you are new to the quilt show circuit then I recommend you start with a local or regional show first. Usually they aren’t “juried” shows which means they’ll accept quilts on a first-come first basis until the slots fill up. This is a great way to see how it all works – filling out an application, getting your quilt to and from the venue, what it feels like to read judges’ comments, etc.

QuiltCon reject 2

“Rejection #2” – Spools. Both this quilt and SWAK above are from my book Piece and Quilt with Precuts which just goes to show a quilt can still be publication worthy and not get into a show.

Then, once you’ve got your “big-quilter” britches on, go for the national shows. They all have a different aesthetic, different jurors, and different judges. Quilt show entering and judging is EXTREMELY subjective, so as long as you know that going in, you’ll be okay.

Machine Quilting Backing Detail

The back of Reject #3 which I can’t reveal yet because it’s slated to be published in a magazine next year. Even though it wasn’t juried into QuiltCon, it will be displayed in the publisher’s booth.

Here’s just a small list of shows that I enter regularly with links to their websites. I only enter shows with modern categories, so that limits things a bit, but know that there are a whole slew of shows out there and if you google “quilt show entry” you’ll find a wealth of information. If there’s a show you particularly like that’s not listed below – please leave details in the comments for others to see.

National Quilt Shows I Usually Enter:

Now, let’s go make some more fabulous quilts, whether they are included in a quilt show or not!!

Christa’s Soap Box – Simplifying Social Media

Social media overwhelms me and I’ve decided it’s time to simplify. Don’t worry – the blog is NOT going anywhere!! But I’ve been contemplating over the last few months about how I spend my time and WHERE to spend my time.

Until yesterday, I’ve been running a bit ragged, trying to keep up with 3 Facebook pages, 2 Instagram accounts, 2 email lists, this blog, and a very weak attempt at Pinterest. Not to mention several business networking groups. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and joined Instagram in 2013, then began adding ever more social media outlets to the lineup to keep up with “the next best thing.”

The result? I’m honestly getting a little burned out. I spend way more time on screens that could be better spent at the sewing machine!

HST Remix Quilt

Because a blog post is more fun to read with pretty pictures, I’ve sprinkled in a few pics of my latest finish – HST Remix . I often have deep thoughts while quilting – it’s very therapeutic!!

What I’m Saying “Yes” to:

So here’s what I’m keeping: the blog, Instagram, and my Facebook group.

What I’m Saying “No” to:

What I’m ditching: my Facebook biz page, personal Facebook updates, two email lists, my business Instagram, and Pinterest (Gasp! Sorry folks, I’m just not a pinner!!)

What I’m NOT going to feel guilty about NOT doing: Twitter, YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat, etc. What I AM going to enjoy: making and sharing what I want, when I want, where I want.

If I make it – and others want it – they will find it.

HST Remix Quilt

Dense machine quilting makes me happy. I’d rather spend more time creating, and less time managing social media.

Since making that decision to simplify only yesterday, I woke up feeling much lighter today. I’ve realized I don’t need to post ALL THE THINGS to ALL THE PLACES, or worry about whether I cross promoted or over-promoted, or forgot to mention the latest and greatest: here, there and everywhere.

I can simplify. I can make. I can share. And I can focus on quality over quantity which better aligns with my minimalist leanings.

You Can Still Follow Me Here

By the way, if you DO want to follow what I’m doing, and keep up with the blog, you can easily subscribe to it. Here’s how:

If you are on a computer, there are two options in the right-hand side bar. (1) You can enter your email underneath where it says “follow my blog!” and you’ll get an email each time a post is published. Or (2) scroll down a bit further and click the button that says “follow me on bloglovin.”

HST Remix

This is HST Remix, one of my QuiltCon entries. Whether it gets accepted to the show or not, I enjoyed every stitch of this huge 90″ x 90″ quilt! It was made entirely on my home sewing machine.

If you are reading this from your mobile device, it’s a bit trickier to find the signup box. You’ll have to scroll way, way, down, like past a million blog posts until you get to all the “stuff” at the bottom of the screen. Then you’ll see the box to enter your email, or the Bloglovin button. But they are there if you persevere!

Whew – that felt so good to get it off my chest!! I’ll post again when there’s something more to say or show. Now it’s time to start on the next quilt….

Meet Me at Market! (2017 International Quilt Market Schedule)

I’ll be a busy bee at quilt market next week (which takes place each fall in Houston, Texas, and various locations in the spring). Scroll down for my schedule of events including demos and book signings. I’ll be there primarily to promote my new book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts along with my new fabric, Modern Marks.

Christa at Quilt Market 2015

I have great memories of quilt market. My first time attending as an author was in 2015 when I introduced my first book, Machine Quilting with Style. I’ve come a long way since then!

If you plan to attend, I’d love to meet up and chat! If your favorite quilt shop is going – be sure to share this info with them and send them my way!


Friday, October 27 Schoolhouse

  • Martingale Room 381B 1:55 – 2:25pm – Quilts from My New Book
  • Benartex Room 352F 3:45-4:15 – Quilts Made from Modern Marks

Saturday, October 28

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 1:30 PM – Aurifil Booth – Machine Quilting Demo
  • 2:30 PM – BERNINA, booth 628 – Quilt Demo/Book Signing

Sunday, October 29

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 3 PM – Hobbs Batting, booth 200 – Book Signing

Monday, October 30

  • All Day – Benartex/Contempo booth
  • 10-10:30 AM – Brewer booth 734 – Book Signing
  • 12-12:30 PM – Demo Alley – Make a Quilting Plan
  • 1-2:30 PM – Demo Alley – Hand Binding Made Easy

Angela Walters and I introduced our book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting at Spring Quilt Market in 2016. At the time this was my 2nd book, and her 7th!!

International Quilt Market is just open to the trade which means quilt shop owners, designers, and anyone in business in the quilting industry is allowed to attend with the proper credentials (usually an invoice, legitimate business card and web site or store presence.)

Schoolhouse at Market

Another great market memory – Stephanie Palmer, Leah Day and I shared a informal teaching session at quilt market in the fall of 2016. We talked about getting your work published. Leah recorded it for the launch of her very first podcast which you can listen to here.

Thank goodness for the internet and instagram, you can catch the fun virtually even if you can’t attend. Follow the hashtags #quiltmarket #fallquiltmarket, #quiltmarket2017 to stay in the loop! I’m on instagram @christaquilts so be sure to follow me there so you don’t miss a thing!

Leave a comment below if you will be attending. I’d love to see you there!

Christa Watson Quilt Market